In her latest piece for WhichPLM, Lucy Blackley shares her concerns about our education system – and, in particular, how it’s setting graduates up to fail.
Lucy is a PLM and Product Development expert and sits on WhichPLM’s Expert panel.
Last month, I took on my first internship for my company after receiving a message on LinkedIn from a girl who had been rejected repeatedly due to a lack of experience, including for assistant/admin roles in the fashion industry.
Despite having two degrees and several internships, the industry still expected her to have 30 years of experience and work for next to nothing while living in London.
While experience is important, internships and education should also count towards employability.
Perhaps the curriculums in place should be questioned. During my education, I moved from fashion design to garment technology because it gave me practical skills and real-life scenarios.
I had no problem getting a job without having to prove myself through unpaid internships. While it’s not impossible to get a job out of university, it’s clear that having a degree and working unpaid internships are what make the difference.
Fashion is seen as modern, but why are the teachings of the trade outdated? Draping on the stand is unlikely to be used in today’s market unless pursuing Haute Couturier. Retail is changing, and industries at the backend must also refine themselves to match the ever-changing demands of consumers.
Customers’ actions are having a domino effect on how and why they buy based on the Internet of Things. If we keep up with the current format of fashion education, we could be shooting ourselves in the feet. Fashion is complex, and technology could add value by giving students a near-real-life experience of their chosen role.
Most students lack knowledge of essential industry tools like PLM systems, tech packs, lab dips, and strike-offs. Even if they know how to make a bodice block, they may not be able to fit a different garment.
Fashion has been slow to adopt true digitalization, with many still relying on Excel spreadsheets. However, with more affordable solutions entering the market, PLM has become essential even for startups and SMEs.
Fashion education should focus more on technology to prepare students for the workforce and lower the expectations of excessive experience for entry-level roles.
Budget constraints in universities are a challenge, but supporting future innovators is crucial for the industry. We need to set reasonable standards and not stunt students’ career development.